Tag: Alexei Kovalev

P.K. Subban

Under Pressure: P.K. Subban


P.K. Subban has always been a lightning rod for criticism because he doesn’t just play the game, he does it with flare; Subban isn’t afraid to do a little talking on the ice adding an eccentric celebration following a goal or a win to add salt to the wound.

As childhood on-ice nemesis, and current Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri once told me, “That’s what drives people crazy: he’s a good player and he runs his mouth a little. When good players are chirping and running their mouth, it just makes the other team want to kill him that much more.

“Then next thing you know, he’s putting one in the back of your net, which makes you even more angry.”

In Montreal, it’s hard to say Subban could be under any more pressure that was until he inked his new mammoth eight-year, $72 million contract earlier this month.

“I’ll tell you something, it’s nothing I haven’t heard in my career before,” Subban joked last week of criticism heard during the arbitration process.

Subban added, that he’s used to the added attention he garners, “I understand when it’s me, it’s a little more magnified, that’s fine.”

Now everyone’s coming out of the woodwork to offer their two cents including former Hab, Alexei Kovalev, who last week paid Subban a back-handed compliment comparing Subban to Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, before adding that he didn’t understand why Subban was making so much money.

The criticism will likely follow Subban for the duration of his contract and beyond, especially if he plays more like he did in 2013-14 than he did in 2012-13 when he won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

This past season Subban had just 15 more points than he did in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but what’s more glaring is that as one of the team’s top defenseman, he carried a minus rating.

Now how could one go about adding more pressure to the 25-year-old’s shoulders? Is that even possible?

Well with the departure of captain Brian Gionta along with fellow veterans Daniel Briere and Josh Georges, the Canadiens now need to appoint a new captain.

Why not the highest paid guy on the team?

“I think the interesting thing about our team is that we have a lot of guys who are leaders, and guys that are growing into leaders,” Subban said attempting to deflect attention. “At the end of the day that’s management’s decision, they’ll make the decision as to who they feel fits the best mold as a captain.”

Playing under pressure is what Subban’s done ever since he burst on to the scene in Montreal, but it’s how he performs under that pressure going forward that Canadiens fans care about.

“I think playing in Montreal, not just me, but also my teammates, we understand the magnitude of wearing the ‘C-H ‘and playing for the Montreal Canadiens,” said Subban. “But that’s exciting, that’s the exciting thing about playing in Montreal is, to me anyway, being under the spotlight and excelling.

“This is a city that craves for success, craves for a championship and that motivates you. Its just added motivation.”

Well P.K. sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, lets hope for the sake of Habs’ fans, he can back it up on the ice.

Related: Markov represents Montreal’s other pricey extension

Kovalev doesn’t travel with Panthers; retirement looming?


Sounds as though Alexei Kovalev’s time with the Florida Panthers will soon come to an end.

Kovalev, 40, didn’t travel with Florida to Carolina — the Panthers and ‘Canes play on Saturday — and head coach Kevin Dineen said an announcement about the veteran forward’s future is pending.

Here’s more, from the Miami Herald’s George Richards:

Kovalev has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions this year, appearing in 14 of Florida’s 20 games thus far. He’s scored 2G-3A-5PTS with a minus-1 rating, but only has one point in his last seven contests.

The former Ranger, Penguin, Canadien and Senator signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Panthers in early January, a deal that included games-played bonuses. The deal marked his return to the NHL after a one-year hiatus.

Update: Here’s more context, from RDS’ Renaud Lavoie…


Whitney, Kovalev healthy scratches again

Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

Two veteran NHLers that have already spent time in the press box will be back there again on Thursday.

In Edmonton, defenseman Ryan Whitney will be a healthy scratch when the Oilers take on the Minnesota Wild. Theo Peckham will replace Whitney in the lineup and make his season debut.

Whitney has been held out of three games this year by head coach Ralph Krueger,

In Florida, forward Alexei Kovalev will be a healthy scratch when the Panthers take on the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Kovalev, who turns 40 on Sunday, has missed just two games this season and has put up decent numbers following a one-year hiatus from the NHL, recording 2G-3A-5PTS while averaging over 16 minutes per game.

It sounds as though winger Mike Santorelli will draw into the Florida lineup to replace Kovalev.

Report: Kovalev to attend Panthers camp


Alexei Kovalev is taking another kick at the can.

That’s the word out of Florida on Tuesday — the veteran forward has reportedly accepted an invite to Panthers training camp, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.

Kovalev, who will turn 40 in February, last played in the NHL during the 2010-11 season, racking up 16G-18A-34PTS in 74 games split between Ottawa and Pittsburgh.

He spent the 2011-12 season with KHL Atlant and has been without a club this year, spending most of his time rehabbing a bothersome knee (though he did practice with Swiss second division team Martigny for a spell.)

Kovalev does have some ties to the Panthers organization. He played with goalie Jose Theodore in Montreal and spent a season with Filip Kuba in Ottawa.

Of note, Kovalev won’t be the only reclamation project attending Florida’s training camp. Another veteran forward, Marek Svatos, will also be participating after taking last year off to recover from injury.


Richards spoke with Kovalev on Tuesday:

Kovalev said a few teams asked him about coming to camp, but he seems to like the Panthers and Kevin Dineen.

“I like the people in the organization and they changed the coach. I played against him many times. I know what they have done, I saw what they did last year with the changes and making the playoffs. I feel this is a good place for me, a good environment with the organization and the players.”

“No one has promised me anything. They just want me to come in and they are hoping I make the team. I don’t know. I can’t predict anything. I’m just going to do what I’m able to do and we’ll see what happens. They could go with the younger guys or something like that. You never know. It’s just good to have the chance to come to camp and hopefully make the team.”

It sounds like ex-Canadien and Predator Andrei Kostitsyn will also be at Florida’s training camp.

Question: Was Alexei Kovalev too talented for his own good?

Alex Kovalev

There has been plenty of chatter in the wake of Alexei Kovalev’s move to the KHL and the parting shots he had for the media and coaching staff in Ottawa. After telling a Russian newspaper that members of the Ottawa media had boarded planes with bags full of beer, it wasn’t surprising that members of the media shot back with attacks on Kovalev. More specifically, they fired back at Kovalev’s work ethic.

If nothing else, the media has rekindled a career-long debate centering around the three-time NHL All-Star. In an interesting article that takes a look at the Kovalev situation from a fascinating perspective, Scott Cullen from TSN explores the gifted Russian, talented players in other sports, and what could have been if he were more dedicated to the game:

“Recently retired NFLer Randy Moss would hardly be considered an underachiever in the classic sense, but the common perception was that, as great as he was, scoring 153 touchdowns in his career, Moss could have been even better if he had the drive of Jerry Rice, for example.

Some parallels might be drawn to Kovalev. Not that he struggled in the postseason; since 1990, his 45 playoff goals ranks 23rd in the league. But, as age caught up to Kovalev, like it catches up to all eventually, he couldn’t just get by on being the most talented puck handler on the ice and the results weren’t good.”

First thing is first, Kovalev has hands that are so good it’s like he’s from another planet. For all of the arguments, controversy, and frustration around Kovalev throughout his career, no one has ever doubted his skill. All it took was a snapshot from his off-wing that ended up just under the bar (and behind the goaltender) to convince even the most jaded opponent of his talent.

Cullen’s implication is that Kovalev skated through his career and didn’t have to work hard because of his God given talent. A skilled player in his own right, St. Louis Blues winger David Perron quickly defended Kovalev—both his talent and his work ethic:

“For those who say Kovalev didn’t care, you are NOT born with skills and finesse like that, you work at it, and he sure did!”

Perron brings up a great point—no one gets to be that good without putting in hours and hours of hard work. There’s no denying that he was born with a special gift, but without the work, he would never have scored over 1,000 points in an NHL career that spanned 18 seasons. If anything, he falls into the category of players who makes it look so easy, that people can misconstrue the polished play for laziness. Some players – in all sports – just look graceful on the field of play. For better or worse, they never LOOK like they have to over exert themselves. Maybe Kovalev was just one of those players who never looked like he was hustling, even though he left everything on the ice.

What do you think of Cullen’s article? Do you think Kovalev could still be a desirable NHL point producer if he had better work ethic; or is Kovalev just another example of Father Time catching up to player in his late 30s?